In our ongoing “Questions from the Client” series, we dig into our grab bag of client queries to answer a question that current and potential SocialToaster clients have asked us.
Today’s question: I saw your post on how advocacy marketing can benefit residential realtors, but can I use advocacy marketing to bolster my commercial real estate development company?
Short answer? It definitely can – but instead of focusing on consumers, we recommend building a program focused on engaging your employees. Why not customers? Let me explain.
For the residential realtor, we recommended building a consumer-focused advocacy marketing program, comprised of the individuals that either bought or sold their house through the realtor.
For commercial real estate companies (or development companies), particularly larger ones, we recommend implementing an employee advocacy program, An employee advocacy program provides your employees with the tools, the how-to, and the incentives to share your content marketing pieces with their professional and personal social networks and expand your marketing reach.
Employees Are A Goldmine For Commercial Real Estate Companies
When populating your commercial real estate company’s advocacy marketing program, you have two choices:
- Try to corral your tenants, investors, and builders into sharing content on behalf of your brand.
- Engage your employees to share content on behalf of the company to help grow and market the company
For most real estate companies, getting that first audience in line can be a bit tricky. It also might not be the best marketing decision depending on how active that audience is on social media.
Your employees, however, represent a potential gold mine for social media sharing. They have a vested interest in helping your business grow and have a social network that’s composed of potential new clients and opportunities.
Understanding The Power Of Employee Advocacy Marketing
Still not convinced? Take a look at these employee advocacy truths:
- Content shared by employees receives 8-times more engagement than content shared by brand channels
- Customers referred by advocates have a 37% higher retention rate
- 64% of businesses with a formal employee advocacy program report a lift in revenue attributed to employee advocacy efforts and social selling
- Brand messages are re-shared 24-times more frequently when distributed by employees vs. a brand
Employee-shared content improves content engagement, increases visibility, and can help drive new sales opportunities. It’s human nature for people to trust people over brands, even if they’re both sharing the same pieces of content.
Leverage this trust and help grow your business through employee advocacy.
Employee Advocacy Program Best Practices
Now on to the good stuff. We’ve helped hundreds of clients manage employee advocacy programs over the years. Here are some best practices we’ve picked up along the way.
Select The Right Employee Advocacy Tool
Sure, you can run an employee advocacy program through spreadsheets, team emails, and other manual tracking methods, but you don’t have that kind of time. Using an employee advocacy marketing platform (like SocialToaster) makes it easy to both recruit your employees and encourage their program participation.
SocialToaster can also track your results and even calculate your program’s return on investment, which is a lot trickier to do when you’re manually tabulating with a spreadsheet.
Explain The Purpose Behind The Program
If you want your employees to actively participate in the program, you need to tell them why their participation is important. This includes:
- Explaining how the program can benefit the company as a whole
- Explaining how the program can benefit the employee as an individual
Many employee advocacy programs focus on supporting the sales staff. So, by producing content that makes it easier for your commercial real estate sales department to close (or begin) a deal, you are more likely to earn their participation in the program.
Encourage Your Employees To Continuously Build Their Networks
We’re not saying that your employees should start sending friend requests to their colleagues’ grandmothers, but we do recommend giving your employees a bit of training on growing their social networks, particularly on LinkedIn and other professional networks.
An easy way for an employee to grow their network is to simply have them get in the habit of connecting online with anyone they’ve exchanged a conversation or business card with. This connection then stays in their social orbit and will have the opportunity to view and share content posted by that employee in the future.
Incentivize Your Participants
It’s inevitable that your employees are going to get busy. Between new projects, deadlines, and urgent deliverables, sharing a piece of branded content to LinkedIn might not seem critically important. To help keep your employee advocacy marketing program top of mind, consider adding rewards for program participants.
These rewards don’t have to be crazy (no, you don’t need to give away a Corvette). Your program’s incentives could include:
- Branded merchandise (unique to the program)
- Unique experiences
- Free lunches
- Company perks like extra PTO, premium parking, etc.
- Public recognition in company memos, emails, etc.
Content To Curate Through Your Employee Advocacy Program
An employee advocacy marketing program is only as strong as the content it’s fed. To be successful, have your employees share content pieces that showcase your company’s successes and expertise. Here are a few content ideas to get you started:
Showcase New Properties
Has your commercial real estate firm recently won the opportunity to represent or develop a new property? Use your employees to amplify your win across the interwebs! This content could take the form of a standard press release or it could be a blog post that provides an overview of the new property or deal.
Announce New Hires
Growing companies are often interpreted as successful companies. If a commercial real estate company is hiring, potential leasers, buyers, and partners will assume that you must be doing something right to support your company’s growth.
Is your company regularly featured in local press coverage, trade publications, or influencer pieces? Share that coverage through your employees! Press coverage is a powerful form of third-party earned media and can help foster trust in – and awareness of – your commercial real estate company.
Start Leveraging Your Employee Advocacy Program
For commercial real estate companies, being visible in the marketplace is an ongoing battle. Quit pumping money into direct mail pieces and sponsored posts, and instead start leveraging the social-sharing power of your employees to drive in new business opportunities.